Archive for the Bars Category

Horseshoes and Hand Grenades

Posted in Bars, gone forever, nightlife, Special Places with tags , , , , , , , , on June 23, 2011 by Jenner Davis

Dear readers, I know I’ve been away for a while. And in my absence, much has changed. The beloved Eagle Tavern has closed for good, along with the Ace Cafe, both apparently falling under greed’s mighty axe. St. Mary’s pub has been sanitized to a hipster friendly sparkle, and Skip’s Tavern has been reincarnated as The Lucky Horseshoe.

If one can make a horseshoe lucky by simply stripping off the rust, shiny San Francisco should have good fortune to spare.

But I’m not so superstitious.


Party like it’s 1997!

Posted in Bars, gone forever, nightlife with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2011 by Jenner Davis

While I was digging up the graveyard last night, I found this old flier for a show at the Trocadero back in ’97. Back then it seemed like there was live music going on everywhere! I never thought SOMA would ever become such a douchebag’s paradise.

C’est la vie.

17 Reasons Why I Loved the Mission

Posted in Bars, gone forever, History, nightlife, San Francisco, Special Places with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 2, 2010 by Jenner Davis

Photo by Dave Van Hulsteyn

#1 – The Sign

#2 – Leather Tongue Video

Photo by Slowburn

#3 – The Epicenter Zone

#4 – The Chameleon (Formerly The Chatterbox)

#5 – Mission Records

#6 - Hunt’s Donuts

#7 – Live at Leeds!

Photo courtesy of MissionMission

#8 – The Vats

#9 – The Tip Top Inn

#10- Matty Luv and The Naked Cult of Hickey

#11- The  Architecture

Photo by Anomalous_A

#12 – The Farm

#13 – The Yuppie Eradication Project

#14 – The Quonset Hut

#15- Omer a.k.a Bum Jovi

#16 – Komotion

#17 – Iggy Scam

Photo by CleveburghUberAlles

Strangers When We Meet

Posted in Bars, gone forever, History, nightlife, Special Places with tags , , , , , , , , on September 18, 2010 by Jenner Davis

The first bartending job I had was at a bucket of blood in Bernal Heights called Charlie’s. Its current incarnation, Stray Bar, is a far cry from its rough-and-ready predecessor, but then again the same could be said for Bernal Heights in general.

Owned by a portly alcoholic named Charlie Bateman, Charlie’s was a haven for those not welcome at the other two bars on Bernal’s main drag, Skip’s and Wild Side West. But I found myself right at home with that less than reputable clientele, and put in a lot of hours on a stool alongside them well before I ever worked there. There are many stories I could tell you about that bar, not the least of which is how I found myself behind it.

It was 2001. I was 21 years old, and had just returned from an ill-fated trip to Philadelphia only to find myself right where I’d been before, homeless and outta work. With renewed zeal I was beatin’ the street, papering the town with resumes, looking for work anywhere I thought I could find it with no results. My friend Julia was currently working at Charlie’s, so at least I had a place to drink for free. I would pour my heart out, and she’d pour me another, right into a shot glass. Then one night, without any warning, she suddenly dropped everything, turned to me and said “Hey, Jenner! You want a job? Well here. You can have this one!” And with that, she threw her bar towel at me, and walked right the fuck out. Stunned,  I shouted after her “Wait! How much does stuff cost?!”
I stood there aghast for what felt like hours, waiting for her to walk back in and say “Ha! Gotcha!”, but she never did. Eventually the demands of the people who were now my customers snapped me out of it, so I got my ass behind the bar.

The most complicated thing anyone ever drank at Charlie’s was a Long Island Iced Tea, so I wasn’t too worried. I had decided years ago that I was gonna be a bartender one day, and I’d already been a regular customer in a few establishments well before I was legally allowed to. I paid attention, saw how my friends in the industry did their job, and now that it was my turn, I was confident I’d do just fine. So I got to work, allowing one of the more trustworthy regulars to fill me in on prices. I fell right into it, not even breaking stride when I had to remind the rather fearsome clientele that even though I was not their regular bartender, tipping was still customary. Having set them straight, I worked till closing time, made plenty tips, and called Julia’s boyfriend Chuck to come show me how to shut down the bar.
The following afternoon, back at the bar, Chuck introduced me to Charlie himself and we informed him that I would be covering Julia’s shifts in the future. With a hearty, drunken, handshake, he welcomed me to the team. It was settled: The night shifts at Charlie’s belonged to me.

For the next year or so I worked there, honing my bartending skills, cutting my teeth on one of the more nefarious bars in town. With a large axe handle kept behind the bar as my only means of regulation, I preferred not to be completely alone there late at night, but sometimes it was unavoidable. On one such quiet evening, my long solitude was at last interrupted by a Native American man of immense stature. He was HUGE. I was so struck by his resemblance to Big Chief from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” that I was quite surprised when he actually spoke.

“Gimme a Bud.” he says.

“No Problem” I reply, relived to finally have a customer. But something about him made me uneasy…

“How ya doin’ tonite?” I asked.

“Drunk.  Already been kicked outta Skip’s.”


“Fuck yeah, I just got out.”


“Outta  Prison. Just tonight.”

At this point I’m genuinely starting to get nervous, but I tried to keep the conversation going.

“What were ya in for?“


Well then, I thought, good thing I asked. I managed to get out of that situation by discreetly squeezing half a bottle of Visine into his next beer, which was on the house, of course.  Not that he would have had time to pay, since a few drops of  Visine in your drink will evacuate your bowels faster than the National Guard.  So, with Big Chief trapped on the toilet, I was able to run outside, slap the padlock on the front door, and call the cops. They got there pretty quick, and carted Big Chief back to the big house without too much trouble,  and I decided to go ahead and close early that night.

.     .     .

Charlie’s was a dive in the truest sense of the word. Outside, the facade was a  mismatch of  glass bricks and Carmel stone. Inside, the mustard yellow walls were sticky, and stained the dull brown color of tobacco, except for the ceiling, which was wallpapered with 1970’s classic rock record jackets. The place has serious personality. For entertainment there was a pool table in the back, a couple of old payout pinball machines up front,  a surprisingly well stocked Jukebox, and on the wall behind it a very large painting, with a very strange story.

"After Cassino" Harold E. Vick, 1943

It’s the only piece of Charlie’s to have survived the renovation, and it’s still up on the wall at Stray Bar today. But sadly, the small sign that was once affixed to the piece detailing its history is no longer there. Fortunately, you’ve got me to fill you in!   Painted in 1943 by a man named Harold E. Vick, the scene depicted in “After Cassino” was taken from an original sketch, which he found, singed and burned, in that very field as he was crossing it with his platoon.  Nearby were the remains of the artist and his unsuspecting subject who blew them both to bits when her plow hit a land mine.

.    .    .

The regulars were more than just customers, more than friends, they were the heart and soul of a down at heel dive bar that would prove to be no match for the changing demographic of a neighborhood we used to know. Charlie’s closed for good in 2002, and I hold the dubious honor of having worked the final shift.  It was uneventful, there was no party, no last hurrah, and barely even any customers. Only rang about 25 bucks, which I pocketed at the end of the night, then I turned off the sign, and locked up for the last time.

It was eight long years before I finally went back. There was a good crowd at Stray Bar that night, nice people, even some old friends! But to see the place so different, so shiny and classed up, it was like seeing an ex that has moved so far on with their life, that they don’t even know you anymore. And yeah, it broke my heart a little. But, to my surprise, I had a good time. The bartender was a tough chick, who took no guff, but always took the time to pour a proper pint, and the customers were a friendly and fabulous bunch who made me feel more than welcome. The crowd was a good mix of straights, dykes, drag queens and dogs, with whom I felt right at home, and when a drunken street fight  broke out at the end of the night, I found myself reassured that the down and dirty spirit of Charlie’s was still alive and well.

I have to admit it: Stray Bar has a good thing going on up there.

#11 Lonely Is An Eyesore

Posted in Bars, gone forever, San Francisco with tags , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2010 by Jenner Davis

What. The. Fuck, San Francisco.

I don’t know how the hell you did it, but i swear to god you’d better knock it off. I know, you probably think it’s pretty fucking funny to watch me suddenly realize I have NO idea where I am, and I’m sure you go to great effort to pull these little pranks, but seriously. These shape shifting shenanigans have got to stop. It seems like every time I turn around I’m further away from home.

For instance…

On the corner of 18th and Valencia, next to what was once Leather Tongue Video, there USED to be an empty lot. Not anymore.

It sprang up in under a months time, while my back was turned.  Prolific and ravenous, they attack and aggressively consume all I’ve known with the malignancy of stage three cancer. Helter skelter they feed unchecked til suddenly I’m lost in the familiar, a stranger in my homeland.

It’s messing with my mind. And it’s everywhere.

So in an effort to alleviate these feelings of displacement and alienation, I did a little counter intelligence. I will now share my findings with you.

If you notice, they’ve already gone and photo-shopped out The Retox Lounge. As if there was any question that a late night live music venue would be allowed to remain open so near the home owning elite when clearly an Ultra-Lounge or sushi bar would be such a better fit. Don’t believe me? Consider the fate of The Eagle Tavern. The famed gay rock and roll club and live venue is currently up for sale. What will become of it you ask?

Another one bites the dust.

SO fight back citizens of SF! Get loud! Get drunk! Take a dump inside Starbucks! Don’t smoke crack in the alley, smoke crack in the middle of the street!! Let make San Francisco a bad investment and a better place to drink, work and live before they make it impossible!

#10 The Day the Music Died

Posted in Bars, gone forever, Grand Opening/Closing, nightlife with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on January 1, 2010 by Jenner Davis

At midnight tonight, when the blue moon is full, we will cheer like drunken fools while the ball drops ‘till  day breaks, we will count down the seconds ’till blackouts and headaches, and we’ll try, as always, to put the worst of the last year behind us, and say hello to first day of the rest of our lives!

But first we must say our goodbyes.

Four years ago, on New Year’s Eve, a bar called Annie’s Cocktail Lounge was busy raising the roof of their Boardman alley address for the last time. Tomorrow they would pull up stakes and move the whole operation down the street to 5th and Folsom, reclaiming the home of the legendary Covered Wagon Saloon, and putting the current tenant, Cherry Bar, out of our misery. They would re-open the following month as Annie’s Social Club, and for the next four years we would not want for Rock and Roll. Up and coming local acts played along side big name touring bands, and there were so many amazing shows, so many good times.

But like all good times they went by far too fast.

Tonight is New Year’s Eve once again, and once again it’s last call for Annie’s. Only this time there will be no new incarnation, no grand re-opening, this time goodbye is just goodbye.

So come on down tonight for the last hurrah! There will be DJs, drinking, commiseration, camaraderie, and karaoke, all free of charge. It’ll be a night you’ll wish you could remember.

But to me last night was the night that mattered; the last live show.

The bands held nothing back, the crowd was electric, I was kicked in the stomach, assaulted by my peers, leapt upon by the singer of Everything Must Go and at one point I honestly thought I might die in a fire.

It was awesome.

And as Jesse Morris of the Man Cougars pointed out, if we could have packed the room like that every night, Annie’s would not have had to close.

It was a great bar, staffed by wonderful people, and owned by the Queen of Rock and Roll herself. Thank you, Annie, for keeping the local music scene alive, and may the new year bring you good fortune in all your endeavors.

We salute you.

If you’ve had a particularly awesome Annie’s experience, tell us all about it in the comments! We wanna hear your stories.

Season’s Greetings!

Posted in Bars, updates on December 23, 2009 by Jenner Davis

Do not despair, dear reader! I know it has been some time since my last post, but I have not forgotten about you!

The end of this year will mark the end of the beloved Annie’s Social Club, and I will be there for the final last call, as always.

So bear with me through the holidays, and if you can, try to make to Annie’s for their last show ever on 12/30. The Man Cougars are playing. You should be there.  But if you can’t, don’t worry. You can read all about it in my upcoming post.

Until then,  if pictures are your thing,  there’s lots of new stuff to see on my photo blog,  Lesser Gods! Like this:

Check it out!


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